Breast cancer Round 2: Birthday update

Here on my December 6th birthday I look back at the past few months of my latest cancer journey.

At this point I’m almost three months post bilateral mastectomy. I’ve been taking the aromatase inhibitor (Anastrozole, brand name Armidex) for about a month. I’m not sure if I’m having side effects or not. They’re the same as my usual life experiences—muscle and bone pain, hot flashes.

I had all of that before starting the Anastrozole. So when I experience a rough day, I can’t tell if it’s normal or a side effect!

I did have some really painful bone aches two or three weeks ago, much as when I was going through Taxotere infusions 11 years ago. They didn’t persist then, and this bone ache recently hasn’t persisted. So I’m guessing side effects can be long-lasting OR very short-term.

I haven’t noticed hot flashes any worse than what I’ve typically had in the last several years, so I take that as a gift.

Eleven years ago yesterday I had a lumpectomy to remove that almost triple-negative breast cancer tumor.

Because that cancer journey involved chemotherapy infusions both before and after the lumpectomy as well as radiation, it was a worse journey overall than this one.

Amazingly, a double mastectomy isn’t nearly as bad. I do have days when I feel rotten, just generally rotten, nothing specific. And yesterday I had some surgery-site pain because of the big rains we had. But overall the surgery site isn’t painful. It was super sensitive at first but is now just slightly sensitive every now and then. That’s progress!

Because today is my 64th birthday, I feel a sense of the entirety of my life. The last few years have had their health challenges, but before then I had excellent health. I was a kid who had many advantages, none of which I earned. I was born into an educated, economically-stable family. I lived surrounded by my paternal grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins. I had a very solid, dependable church family as well.

All of this to say I had a particularly stable and supportive foundation. I know that has helped me immensely through life. Especially during these cancer challenges.

And my sister has been the best support I could hope for! She has been here for me during these health challenges, most recently in a month-long stay at my house around my surgery and since from a distance from her New England home. She’s been nurse, conversationalist, chauffeur, chef, house cleaner and organizer, economic supporter, cat-tender, and—most of all—my best friend. That’s a blessing far beyond any measure.

My birthday today makes me very grateful. I have so many blessings!

Many friends have been in touch to wish me a happy birthday. Many have prayed for me, sent good vibes, sent physical gifts like meals and flowers during my surgery recovery.

I have a loving community of support. That’s as important as good medical care.

Soooo many people are thinking of me, taking care of me, loving me. The cliché is that it takes a village, but it really does.

So though this birthday is a quiet one at home, it’s as good as when I’ve had celebrations of travel and meals out and gatherings of friends. I’ve reached the point at which I’m not seeking so much as enjoying what is. That’s one of the gifts of aging if we’ll accept it—contentment with life as it is at the moment, knowing it will change but enjoying the moment that is now.

It’s a moment I don’t take for granted anymore.

Sunrise from my deck one day last month.

2 thoughts on “Breast cancer Round 2: Birthday update

  1. Hey, Krista, happy birthday! So glad this bout with the Big C hasn’t been as hard as the first, but I know it’s still hard. I think of you, especially since I started back to school. I’m grateful the semester is almost over. I know having Karla to help you has been invaluable and precious. Be well and blessed be.

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